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Dutch picnic

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 26, 2005

In Reply to: Dutch picnic posted by Shae on August 24, 2005

: : "Dutch picnic" - I have been trying to figure out what this means with no success.

: I hadn't heard of it until you asked but a Google search seems to indicate that it was an outdoor festival, involving food and sporting activities, celebrated by Dutch Protestant settlers in the US.

Interesting: Hesselink sounds very much like a Dutch name.
I've never heard of a "Dutch picnic," and without any context, am reduced to guessing. What I guess is that a "Dutch picnic" is pretty much the same as a Firemen's picnic, but without the firemen. I grew up in a little country town founded by Dutch immigrants and populated mostly by their descendants. The Firemen's Picnic every year provided entertainment and socializing and an opportunity for the volunteer firemen to raise much needed money for their work. Many communities, only a few of them Dutch, had Firemen's picnics. The entertainment was wholesome, including, among much else, the three-legged race, the egg-tossing contest, the greased-pig chase, and that perennial favorite, the stone boat pull.

A picnic, derived from the French pique-nique, is defined by the OED as: "1. a. Originally, A fashionable social entertainment in which each person present contributed a share of the provisions; now, A pleasure party including an excursion to some spot in the country where all partake of a repast out of doors: the participants may bring with them individually the viands and means of entertainment, or the whole may be provided by some one who 'gives the picnic'."
The Firemen's picnics do not essentially deviate from this definition, except in terms of scale. In this genre of picnic the viands naturally are not free. I believe the term "Dutch picnic" emphasizes that, although there is a single host, nonetheless those attending have to pay. Dutch treat, Dutch lunch, Dutch party, all emphasize that the host (when there is one) does not provide the food, which is paid for by the individuals attending. Picnics of the "Dutch" or "Firemen's" genre, with or without the three-legged race, can be hosted by many types of non-firefighting organizations, churches and businesses being prominent among them. In some cases the food is brought by the host and bought by the attenders, in others the attenders may bring food and share it, or possibly bring food only for themselves. In these other cases, it's doubtful that "Dutch picnic" applies, however.